Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
Series: Standalone
Published: May 31st, 2012
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
202 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
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Synopsis: Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.


Keep Holding On is a story about survival, triumph, and hope. To say that Noelle has a hard life is an understatement. She’s neglected at home and bullied at school. Between her horrible, selfish mother and the nasty kids at school, her life is miserable.

When I saw that this book was only 202 pages, I wondered how much character growth there could be, but Noelle had quite a bit of depth, and she developed nicely as a character. She got stronger, she realized things wouldn’t always be the way they were, and she also realized that she wasn’t the only one with problems - a lot of people have lives that are just as hard, if not harder, but sometimes in different ways. It was very inspiring to see her taking the bad and trying to turn it into good.

Noelle was lucky in that she wasn’t completely alone - she had a really supportive best friend, a boy who liked her, teachers who cared, and she made new friends throughout the story. In some ways it was lighter than a lot of other books on the same subject where the main character is all doom and gloom, heartbreakingly lonely, and has no one and no where to turn.

Keep Holding On talked about a lot of hard subjects that many authors shy away from - bullying, neglect, suicide, sex. I really admire Ms Colasanti for writing this book, and for doing it in a way that instills hope and imparts knowledge without being preachy.

I think that books like this should be required reading in high school so that all kids - whether they’re bullied, doing the bullying, or watching it happen - can see how their actions have consequences. The kids who are bullied can learn that they’re not alone, that things do get better, and to never give up. The kids doing the bullying can see the dire consequences their actions may have, and discover how it feels for their victims. And the kids who watch it happen, thinking there’s nothing they can do, or they don’t want to become targets themselves, can see that they don’t have to let it happen.

Keep Holding On is a story I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Even if you’ve never been in Noelle’s position, she’s easy to relate to, and you can empathize with her situation because it feels very real. Although I did have some issues with the story - the secondary characters, although mostly likeable, were very two dimensional, and I had trouble understanding some of Noelle’s motivations - I enjoyed the book and came away with an overall feeling of hope.

Have you read Keep Holding On? What do you think of YA books that talk about real subjects like bullying? 

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